Building peace in the minds of men and women

International Day of Women and Girls in Science

11 February

On 22 December 2015, the General Assembly decided to establish an annual International Day to recognize the critical role women and girls play in science and technology, through Resolution A/RES/70/212.

The International Day of Women and Girls in Science, celebrated on 11 February, is implemented by UNESCO and UN-Women, in collaboration institutions and civil society partners that aim to promote women and girls in science. This Day is an opportunity to promote full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls.

Gender equality is a global priority for UNESCO, and the support of young girls, their education and their full ability to make their ideas heard are levers for development and peace. 

Tackling some of the greatest challenges of the Agenda for Sustainable Development -- from improving health to combatting climate change -- will rely on harnessing all talent. That means getting more women working in these fields. Diversity in research expands the pool of talented researchers, bringing in fresh perspectives, talent and creativity. This Day is a reminder that women and girls play a critical role in science and technology communities and that their participation should be strengthened.

Join the conversation with #WomenInScience !


“If we are to be able to address the enormous challenges of the twenty -first century – from climate change to technological disruption - we will need to rely on science and the mobilization of all our resources. It is for this reason that the world must not be deprived of the potential, the intelligence, or the creativity of the thousands of women who are victims of deep-seated inequality and prejudice.

On the International Day of Women and Girls in Science 2020, UNESCO is calling on the international community, States and individuals to work together so that equality in the sciences and other fields can finally become a reality. Humanity has everything to gain– and so does science”.

—  Audrey Azoulay, Director General, Message on the occasion of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science 2020

Download the complete message in PDF format
English | Français | Español | Русский | العربية | 中文

Join the conversation


Use the hashtag #WomenInScience to join the conversation, defy gender stereotypes and spread the word on the need to include more women and girls in STEM fields! A social media package with sharable data cards, inspirational quote cards and videos is available in several languages.


Key messages

Gender Equality in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI)

Gender equality in STI is crucial and urgent to enable us to attain sustainable development.

  • To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda, we need to accelerate our collective efforts to solve challenges faced by the people and the planet. Science is our powerful tool to create sustainable solutions for issues such as poverty, health, climate change, water and energy resources.
  • The under-representation of women in STEM translates into the loss of a critical mass of talent, thoughts and ideas, which hinders countries from reaching their maximum development potential.
  • Science and scientific discoveries/research can bring life-changing benefits, especially for those who are furthest behind.

Gender equality in STI protects and promotes the quality and social relevance of science.

  • Science reflect the people who make it. If there is gender imbalance in the number of scientists/researchers, innovators or leadership, it is highly likely that the infrastructure or services being discovered and developed will not take into account the specific needs of other parts of the population.
  • Gender equality and access to science are both recognized as human rights in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. To achieve the SDGs by 2030, we need to harness science’s full potential, by empowering all members of our society to identify problems and create innovative solutions.
  • It has been demonstrated that when women contribute, with their particular perspectives, priorities and approaches to Research and Development, the questions asked, and the solutions created are more diverse and more societally relevant.
  • Sustainable development requires stronger science and more scientists. No country can afford to waste the talent of half of its population.

We still have a long way to go to tackle the challenges that remain for women and girls in regard to science, innovation, technology and engineering.

  • Gender Equality in STI at all levels of education and research is pivotal in encouraging and empowering the role of women in society. We need to break gender stereotypes and expose young generations to women role models in science sectors.
  • Significant gender gaps in ownership and the use of technology products need to be addressed.
  • The business community has a stake in, and a responsibility for, gender equality and women’s empowerment in the workplace, marketplace and community.
    • UN Women calls upon all companies to adopt WEPs as a global norm and framework for responsible business conduct for gender equality and women’s empowerment. Nearly 2,800 CEOs have already adopted WEPs
  • Science and research institutions and companies need to offer reintegration and training for women returning the to the fast-moving science, technology and innovation sectors after maternity leave.
  • Time is Now: as we mark the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action – the most visionary agenda for women’s rights and empowerment globally –and the global community takes stock of progress made for women’s rights, the year 2020 represents an unmissable opportunity to mobilize global action to achieve gender equality and human rights of all women and girls.

Facts and figures

Although STEM fields are widely regarded as critical to national economies, so far most countries, no matter their level of development, have not achieved gender equality in STEM.

  • Despite statistics that show close performance of girls and boys in science and mathematics, strong gendered stereotypes prevail. Therefore, many girls are still less encouraged in science, technology, engineering and maths and have limited choices (if any) for their education and career development.
  • At present, the global average percentage of female researchers is 28.8% and only 35% of all students enrolled in STEM related fields of study are women.
  • Only 30% of all countries with data available on the national share of women researchers had reached parity in 2016
  • Even countries that have reached gender parity in terms of researchers are still facing important challenges in achieving it in all aspects, since vertical and horizontal segregation persist as barriers.
  • Women occupy a small minority of top-level positions, despite an improvement in recent years and only 22 women have been awarded a Nobel prize in a scientific discipline to date.
  • The 2030 Agenda includes a bold commitment "to leave no one behind." This promise, which has gender equality at its heart, requires national and international statistical systems to shine a light on intersecting inequalities through the collection and analysis of data that are systematically disaggregated by sex, age, income, location, disability, race and ethnicity and other relevant factor


  • Despite the efforts to date to bridge the gender gaps in STEM education and S&E careers, gaps still exist at different levels of education and career progression and increase at the higher levels These gaps are partly a consequence of extant long-term STI policies at various levels
  • A holistic approach must be adopted to overcome the challenges in STI policies in order to improve all careers in S&E and to improve the quality of scientific research and innovation.
  • Monitoring progress in terms of gender equality in STI and equal participation  in  STEM fields, including measures and actions to support efforts in the promotion of women in STI, should be prioritized in all countries.
  • Promoting the participation of women and girls in science means changing mindsets, fighting gender stereotypes and biases that limit girls’ passions, expectations and professional goals since their early childhood.
  • Women Leaders are essential as catalysts for change, as they serve to empower other women in the same professions, raise awareness of the barriers they face, and act as role models.

Open Science

  • In the global movement towards Open Science, i.e. making science more accessible, scientific process more inclusive and the outputs of science more readily available and relevant for society, gender equality in STI will be key.
  • We all have a Human Right to have access to knowledge, and to contribute to creating new knowledge, regardless of our gender, our origins, or the color of our skin. The UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science will define shared values and principles that makes science inclusive and beneficial for all. Thus, gender equality in science is fundamental in the process of developing this recommendation.  
  • The gender dimension must be considered in all efforts aimed at opening science to society, as we cannot afford to waste the talent of half of the world’s population Men and boys should be educated and encouraged to acknowledge and support the role of women in science. This should be addressed at all levels of education, research and policymaking.

UNESCO is playing a key role in in promoting women and girls in and for science. UNESCO also assists Member States to identify STI  gender gaps, devise policies and actions to reduce these gaps, and measure their progress towards gender equality.

Today more than ever, we need to keep working for a more equitable world. A world where women and men have the same opportunities. A world where women do not have to face barriers in scientific careers and where they can reach their full potential.
Since peace is built in the minds of men and women, we cannot leave any minds behind in building science for peace.